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Orange County

Bank Cash Freed With Jaws of Life

January 14, 2003|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

In what authorities are calling a "brazen burglary," at least two people apparently used the Jaws of Life to break into a Laguna Niguel bank's night deposit box early Monday.

"It's a very unusual crime," said Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department. "I don't think I've ever been on a call like this."

Authorities were alerted to the burglary about 2:30 a.m. Monday by a customer at the Wells Fargo Bank on Town Center Drive near Crown Valley and Alicia parkways who had gone to make a deposit and found the depository ripped open and emptied.

"It appears that a Jaws of Life was used because of the amount of force needed to open the box," Amormino said. "They forced it open, reached down inside and physically removed the bags of money, which were very heavy."

Investigators believe it would have taken at least two people to operate the rescue device and tear open the bank depository.

Amormino would not say how much was stolen, describing the amount only as "substantial." Investigators, he said, will view a surveillance tape for clues.

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